By David W. Virtue DD

The Anglican Church of Canada’s coordinator for ecumenical and interfaith relations blasted the Anglican Church in North America for failing to repent of its “scandalous contradictions” over divisions in the Communion, and called on the leaders of the ACNA to manifest reconciliation “in prayer, dialogue and action.”

In a column in the December issue of the Anglican Journal, Archdeacon Bruce Myers berated the ACNA leadership saying that to be an ecumenical partner means recognizing that the other with whom you seek to reconcile demonstrates signs of the Holy Spirit at work, even if you are in disagreement about some significant issues.

“It’s far from clear that ACNA yet manifests these qualities of an ecumenical partner. Its repentance is, according to its constitution, limited to ‘things done and left undone that have contributed to or tolerated the rise of false teaching’ in the Anglican churches from which it has chosen to walk apart.

“It’s still in a legal fight over property with two dioceses in the United States. It seeks recognition as a new North American province of the Anglican Communion without desiring reconciliation with those already existing.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury recently said the ACNA is not part of the Anglican Communion, but described the ACNA as “an ecumenical partner.”

Myers thinks ACNA should “repent” and demonstrate “humility”, while he acknowledged that both sides have contributed “to the creation and perpetuation of this sad division, one that compromises the credibility of our witness to the gospel and our fulfillment of God’s mission.”

The Anglican Church of Canada has a number of ecumenical partners. One, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, has become a full communion partner with which we enjoy a full and mutual recognition of ministry and sacraments. With others, like the Roman Catholic Church and the United Church of Canada, we’re still on that journey–an admittedly longer one.

One orthodox Canadian Anglican blogger wrote, “I suspect what is really troubling Bruce Myers is not so much the division in North American Anglicanism but the fact that ANCA has made it so conspicuous. The division existed for decades before the final split occurred; while it was hidden, conservatives could be safely ignored. By making the split so blatant, ACNA has clearly said in action and word that the Anglican Church of Canada and TEC are guilty of ‘false teaching’; their religion does not meet the standards needed to be called Christian. It is, at best, sub-Christian.

“A liberal like Myers is tolerant of just about anything other than being firmly told he is wrong. The desire for reconciliation is little more than carefully disguised insecurity.”

To illustrate the point, the blogger cited an incident a number of years ago when a vote for same sex-blessings passed in the Diocese of Niagara. “A number of clergy voiced their opposition and walked out. A liberal priest rose to his feet and spluttered indignantly that those walking out were declaring by their action that he was not a Christian. That wasn’t the intention, but the question is: why was he so desperate for the approval of those whose theology he had spent years despising? There is no insecurity quite as profound as liberal insecurity.”

The deeper question is why the ACNA needs to change its modus operandi or seek reconciliation with apostasies and heresies espoused by the likes of former New Westminster Bishop Michael Ingham who began the long road to schism by allowing the blessing of same-sex unions in the Vancouver area in 2003 when he announced that he had given priests in some parishes the authority to bless gay and lesbian unions. That single act has ruptured the entire Anglican Communion forcing the early retirement of an Archbishop of Canterbury, and, now it seems, that without repentance, will fracture the communion beyond any hope of repair.

Furthermore, the ACoC is withering on the vine (Jesus said it would as branches that bear no spiritual fruit would be trimmed) while the ACNA has now surpassed the ACoC in average Sunday attendance.

The ACoC is more concerned with developing green churches, changing the Canon on Marriage, and endlessly apologizing for the indigenous treatment of Native Americans with sacred circles. They recently got slammed by Kenyan Archbishop Eliud Wabukala who condemned as a sham the Anglican Church of Canada’s Bishops in Consultation initiative underwritten by the Canadian church and supported at its last meeting in Coventry in May 2014 by the Archbishop of Canterbury and his Director of Reconciliation, the Rev. Canon David Porter. The initiative brought together Canadian, American and African bishops to discuss the divisions within the church, with an eye towards achieving institutional unity while permitting a degree of latitude of doctrinal positions on issues ranging from sexual ethics, Christology, universalism and soteriology.

It’s that phony notion of “generous orthodoxy” — so hailed by former Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold — that tore the fabric of the Communion and led to unorthodoxy and latitudinarian views on sexuality that created the mess we are now in.

Myers thinks and expects ACNA Archbishop Foley Beach to roll over when the ACNA is being treated like a pariah by Archbishop Justin Welby! What world is he living in? Look at the way the ACoC treated former eastern Newfoundland and Labrador Bishop Donald Harvey when he left the ACoC over his Church’s apostasies and formed the Anglican Network in Canada, now a diocese of the ACNA.

He was excluded, shunned and run out of town undergoing much pain and personal loss of status, friends and more. In humility he said only this, “We follow the One who was ultimately excluded, and as much as we follow Him we should expect the same treatment. It’s a badge of honor.”

It’s the same badge of honor that Archbishop Beach wears because he won’t roll over, the stakes are too high, the integrity of the gospel will not be compromised under any circumstances and certainly not for a faux unity that is no reconciliation at all.

The ACNA and its partner diocese the ANiC is the way forward. The ACoC will be history in a generation. Myers’ call for repentance will be for him to make, not Archbishop Beach or ANiC Bishop Charlie Masters.


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